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Gordon Challstrom

Businessman Gordon Challstrom said he is running for Jackson County Board of Commissioners Position 2 in order to make government more business-friendly.

Challstrom, 60, is competing against incumbent Doug Breidenthal and real estate broker Bob Strosser for the seat in the Republican primary in May. The winner will face Democrat Jeff Thomas in November.

Challstrom, who has lived in Medford for 23 years, has served on the Medford School District's Long Range Facilities Planning Committee and is a Republican precinct committee person. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Nevada-Reno.

Challstrom is president of Rogue Solutions, a general contracting company, and past president and founder of C.W. Concrete. He expresses frustration with government regulation, saying he once had $6,000 worth of work done on one of his commercial properties and was charged $9,000 in fees.

"That's crazy. That doesn't make businesses feel welcome when they come here," he said. "It's almost like government is extorting you."

Challstrom says in his Voters' Pamphlet statement that the U.S. and Oregon constitutions would be the basis for his decision-making as a commissioner. A member of the National Rifle Association, Challstrom also said he wants to protect gun owners' rights.

On the economic front, Challstrom said management of natural resources needs to be increased. He said thinning of forests to reduce wildfire fuels would provide more family-wage jobs and protect Rogue Valley towns.

"The forests are so overgrown, one careless mistake or strike of lightning and we lose a whole community," he said.

He said the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management need to coordinate more with local governments to increase logging.

Challstrom said more needs to be done to boost manufacturing to augment the Rogue Valley's existing medical, retail and education sectors. He said the manufacturing sector provides jobs for people with a range of education credentials, from high school graduates to people with advanced degrees.

Challstrom said he didn't vote in 2014 to legalize marijuana, but state voters have decided to legalize the drug. He said people who sell marijuana to kids or transport it across state lines should be jailed.

"I don't want to see it get into the hands of youth," he said. "It turns the brain to mush."

On the other hand, Challstrom said he supports the rights of property owners to grow marijuana on their land.

"We need to stand up for their property rights," he said.

As for commissioner pay, Challstrom said he would take $72,000 instead of the approximately $100,000 he would receive as a newly elected commissioner.

Breidenthal said if he is re-elected he will take the $105,331 he is scheduled to receive beginning in January 2017.

Strosser said he is not opposed to taking $68,432 — the amount sitting Commissioner Colleen Roberts takes because of her objections to commissioners' salaries.

Challstrom said, "With median income at about $36,000, the taxpayers cannot afford to support the high cost of government."

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Gordon Challstrom